The Debasement of Debating

Before we work on artificial intelligence why don’t we do something about natural stupidity?

Steve Polyak

Techno-Fight. The ACT ’07 technical debate. The topic: “Is Artificial Intelligence a boon or bane” I have rarely not had the misfortune of not having to tolerate debate that was as completely unintelligent as this one was not.

The bloopers: My Life Sciences Prof., Mr. A. K. Trivedi, was a judge (wtf?). The compares announced the designation of the other judge as Dean of ASCO (Amity School of Communication) when she was, in fact, the Director. They then mispronounced the names and stances of almost ALL the participants

“The next participant is Harvinder Singh, who will be speaking FOR the topic.”
“Excusing, but myself being Harshvardhan Singh speaking AGAINST topic.”

And this very turbaned gentleman spoke like a complete dufus. Stutters and grammatical mistakes apart, he had NO concrete points. I raised an audience objection,

“You spoke about how chess computers are now capable of defeating human grandmasters as an example of A.I, but I’m sorry, those computers are still performing algorithms and are superior merely due to higher processing speeds and a greater amount of memory. You never mentioned how self-awareness is the true measure of Artificial Intelligence.”
“NO. I said *insert rubbish here*.”

Frankly speaking, I didn’t get a word of what he was saying. Perhaps the feeling was mutual.

Next speaker, same nonsense. A.I can perform operations and the like; they can do complex jobs that humans are incapable of doing. No mention of self-awareness or consciousness and whether the human brain can actually be decoded and explained by a series of complex algorithms. Same question. No logical answer. I almost gave up.

That was until a certain speaker started using Hollywood (and eventually, the hindi film industry) as her crux.

“How many of you have seen Spiderman: 2?” she shrieked, “Well, unless something is done we will have hundreds of Doctor Octopuses and no Spiderman!”
“Intelligence is not only the brain, but the heart as well!”

Right-o, I thought. Better raise an objection.

“Ma’am, you said that ‘Intelligence is not only brain…’ now, I’m not very good at Medical Science, but I thought that the job of the heart is to pump blood. Emotions are also a prerogative of the brain. If you believe that the brain is a machine, it implies that emotions are also something that can be replicated in machines. If not, what is it that separates logical thinking from emotions?” Not a really good point, I’ll agree, but better than the rest.
“There is a difference between logic and emotion.” She said, giving me hope that there’ll be a logical answer that’ll follow. “Suppose there’s a doctor who has to perform an operation on his daughter. (oh, no!) Will he be able to do it as he operates on strangers? (sounds familiar…) or will his hands shake?”
“Well, “ I replied, logically, I thought, ”If he is a competent Doctor, I assume he will.”
“Ha! But you just said you don’t know Medical Science!! How can YOU answer that?!”

The auditorium was filled with her branch (Electronics and Communication or Biotechnology) and they burst out into applause.

I was agape. I saw another speech, where a dude called Abhijeet raised a valid point, but nobody understood that as well. Pallavi was the only person who mentioned the Turing test, and everybody correlated A.I with a machine’s ability to solve complex problems. The question of self-awareness, consciousness or cognito ergo sum did not even arise.

My friend jerked his thumb over his shoulder and said “Screw”. I took the hint.

“Bane or Boon?”, more like n00bs to me.


Filed under *cough cough* comedy, Cartoons, College, Debating, Rants, Uncyclopedia Links Ahead!, Why Life Sucks

5 responses to “The Debasement of Debating

  1. n00bs, from the greek An00bus, greek name for the Egyptian God of neophytes.

    boon n00b

    “Ha! But you just said you don’t know Medical Science!! How can YOU answer that?!”

    Shudder… what’s that word I’m searching for… that multisyllabic expression of mental exhaustion and exasperation in tune with this generation of the nation…

    Ah, yes, F’d in the A
    Or as we like to expand it, Failed in the Academia.
    Academia — >Macademia –> NUTS!

    We’re on a roll here.

  2. fudda

    okay..honestly i didn’t know this till akhil made me read it..i agree with nimish..shudder just starts to describe what i feel..extraordinary student that girl..a typical “amee-ty” example (yeah i’m practising syllables for your favourite teacher )..a real genius i must say

  3. I could never quite place what the situation reminded me of then… but it’s clear now.

    “Well, you’re obviously being totally naive”, Said the girl, “When you’ve been in marketing as long as I have, you know that before any new product can be developed it has to be properly researched. We’ve got to find out what people want from fire, how they relate to it, what sort of image it has for them.”
    “Stick it up your nose,” he [Ford] said.
    “Which is precisely the sort of thing we need to know,” insisted the girl. “Do people want fire that can be fitted nasally?”

    The marketing girl soured him with a look. “All right Mr. Wiseguy,” she said, “you’re so clever, you tell us what color it should be.”

  4. Thank the goold lord you remembered.

    I don’t like putting in HitchHiker’s‘ references in obvious places.

    Ever heard Douglas Adams read out the 4 part trilogy and the official sequel in 128 kbps, 44khz, stereo ?
    I hear that it starts the same way as it ends – he destroys the Earth.

  5. The best part is when Douglas Adams speaks what pre-babelfish Arthur hears in the hold of the Vogon ship.

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